39 Metals | Ch-Ch-Chain of Cool

64 Arts

Having done our duty to the other metals in our life, now let’s go back to the sparkly bits that make our days brighter.

Mixing metals

The rule I learned long ago was simple not to mix gold and silver jewelry; pretty much no ifs, ands, or buts. These days, though, especially with the current popularity of metallics in fashion, gold and silver and other metals are getting cozy together. The trick, as I see it, to successfully mix metals is to wear at least one piece that includes both metals you might be wearing separately. This takes a hodge-podge of shiny designs and makes it into a definite fashion statement.

Another thing to keep in mind is the finish of the metals. If you look at some of the pieces in my Polyvore collage, above, you see that the statement pieces are either all shiny or all “antiqued” or duller and so they look like a planned set. So if you’ve got a heavily antiqued silver bracelet and a high-shine gold necklace, those two pieces might not fit together as well as ones that match to overall look of each.

Even though I got rid of most of my yellow-gold jewelry a few years ago when I decided for once and for all that I liked the look (and cost!) of silver better, I do have some gold-tone costume pieces that occasionally work with an outfit. If it’s just a single necklace I won’t worry too much about mixing my metals, but it wouldn’t hurt to have some mixed-metal pieces in my collection to round things out.

Of course, not all metal is merely silver or gold in composition or color…

As I was brainstorming post ideas, I couldn’t help but assign myself a task that fulfills one of my long-time craft to-dos: a chain maille bracelet. I’d hoped to be able to find some of the awesome multi-colored aluminum jump rings that I’ve seen made into very nice pieces at craft shows, but our local store was light on the options. Instead I opted for copper rings in copper and black and picked up a book while I was there on Basic & Advanced Chain Maille (affiliate links–my book is a combo of the two that I linked to) and had some fun making this bracelet.


The instructions for the Japanese 12-in-2 weave comes from the Advanced section, but I really didn’t find it all that hard, to be honest, so don’t be discouraged by that. You can find a lot of weave patterns online, though, and this one is no exception: (12-in-2 instructions via JewleryMakingDaily.com) All I used to put them together was a pair of needlenose pliers and this nifty ring-looking thing called a Jump Ring Opener (affiliate link).


I have a bad habit of ruining my nails whenever I do wire work and I’m happy to report that this little $2 gadget saved my manicure. I slipped it on my right index finger and it made opening and closing the jump rings so much simpler with the needlenose pliers in my left hand. Jump rings are finicky, you see–you can’t just pull them apart, you have to twist them open and then twist them back closed to keep their round shape and their strength. You can do it with two pairs of pliers, but the opener makes it oddles easier. I also found out that if I pressed slighting in as I twisted the rings closed, it narrowed the gap at the break, lessening the likelihood of the rings snagging on clothes or letting their brothers loose.

It’s one of those things you just have to play with to see what I mean.

The bracelet took 6 of the 12-in-2 “flowers” and less than 2 hours to put together, less than 100 larger rings and just over 150 of the smaller (I had to open the second bag but didn’t make much of a dent in it; and I lost some rings when I dropped them and they rolled under furniture–work over something soft and grabby). It’s not very heavy (copper is fairly light, after all, though the aluminum would be like a feather) and makes a pleasant jingly sound when I spin it around my wrist. Which I’ve been doing a lot while I write this post–I’m enjoying my new bracelet.

I certainly won’t be making a chain maille bikini anytime soon (or ever!) but it’s nice to finally try out a skill I’ve been putting off for a while.

Have you learned anything new lately?

39 Metals | Shimmer & Sheen

64 Arts

Our last project began to bridge the gap between stones and gems (precious or otherwise) and into the next art:

39 Mixing and Polishing Metals

Coming so close on the heels of stones and gems, we might automatically think of jewelry but this could also be applied to the other metals in our life: cookware, flatware, servingware–certainly on the polishing side of things, right?

Today let’s look at some basic tips for cleaning and polishing various metals we might find around our homes, offices, and persons.

Copper, unless sealed, will tarnish easily and loose that warm tone that looks so at home in a kitchen. While there are chemical cleaners out there that will do the trick, why not go the more natural route and get a little bit of an arm workout in at the same time? Two birds, one stone! The cut side of a lemon sprinkled with Kosher salt or baking soda used as a scrubbie will take of light tarnish and give your copper pots and bowls a great shine. If something stronger is needed, mix together 1 Tbsp salt and 1 cup of white vinegar and rub this on with a soft, lint-free cloth (a flour-sack towel, for instance). You may go through a couple of towels if the tarnish is thick.

Whether you’ve got brass doorknobs or buttons to contend with, either is likely to tarnish easily the more it is handled. I remember back in marching band, before the festival performances and competitions the tuba players would be rubbing down their instruments in Brasso and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the smell of it. Ick! Soap and water will clean solid brass pieces just fine, but brass plating might take a little more effort. Vinegar and salt (1 Tbsp each per cup of hot water), those do-it-all wonders, will also work on brass plating. Regular wiping with a jewelers cloth can also keep tarnish at bay.

Stainless steel is something I’m sure we all have in our kitchens in some form or fashion, but how many times has that super-sturdy material ended up discolored or marred, despite what we’ve heard? Even those stainless steel is a bit of a workhorse material, it can still be damaged by mishandling. If you put it through the dishwasher or leave it on the drainboard to air dry, water-spots might hang around, and the minerals in our water can actually mar the surface and open it up to corrosion. If the item needs a deeper cleaning than just warm water can handle, make sure the detergent you’re using is mild.

Finally, silver (plated or otherwise) is the dream and bane of hostessing far and near. I love bringing out my pieces of silver for a big party but I hate having to polish them. Of course, if I would store them properly they wouldn’t tarnish as much, so I suppose it’s my own fault, yes? I promise that when I get my grandmother’s silver I will dutifully keep it wrapped in the cloth bags that keep the air away from it’s pretty finish, but the silver serving ware I currently have I’ll just have to keep cleaning. While I will use Wright’s Silver Cream (affiliate link) if I’m in a hurry–I find it easy to use and fairly fume-free–last time I tried the old foil and baking soda trick and it actually worked quite well. I still had to buff it a lot more than that linked video shows, but my set was really tarnished.

I know we’re a little past the usual spring cleaning time and silver might seem a little out of place at your Memorial Day Barbecue, but I think it’s worth taking the time to shine things up and actually use the “good” dishes and all. Every day is special in it’s own way, why not reinforce that the next time you set the table? Whipping eggs but hate to use that pretty copper bowl you got as a gift? It will do you more good in use than collecting dust, to my mind.

Until next time!